Almost a year has passed following iPhone 7’s debut and the Apple-designed A10 Fusion system-on-a-chip powering it has only recently been marginally outperformed by a few rival devices. However, Apple is already out with a game-changing A11 Bionic chip in the new iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, now ranked as by far the fastest mobile chip out there.
According to early Geekbench scores for iPhone X and iPhone 8, not only does the new A11 silicon beat the latest iPad Pro’s A10X Fusion chip (itself a faster version of A10 Fusion with more cores and higher clock frequency) but produces some unreal numbers in multi-core tests putting it on par with the speediest Intel-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro notebooks.
Geekbench’s John Poole says the benchmarks are real, saying the A11’s two high performance cores are probably clocked at 2.5GHz, up from the 2.34GHz CPU cores in the A10 Fusion chip.
The benchmarked hardware reports running iOS 11.1 so either it’ll come preloaded on iPhone X or Apple engineers internally testing iOS 11.1 have posted those benchmarks to Geekbench.
Identified as an ARM-based system-on-a-chip with six CPU cores, the A11 Bionic silicon has reported an average single-core score between 4,100 and 4,274 and a multi-core performance exceeding an unbelievable 10,430.
By comparison the latest 10.5-inch iPad Pro powered by the A10X Fusion chip sees single and multi-core scores of about 3,887 and 9,210, respectively. iPhone 7 with its A10 Fusion chip reports an average single-core score of 3,327 and a multi-core score of 5,542.
As for the flagship 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel’s 3.5GHz dual-core chip, it sees a lower single and multi-core score of 4,592 and 9,602, respectively—and we’re talking about a friggin’ notebook with a desktop chip here!
Another comparison: the lower-end 2017 MacBook Pro notebook with a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel chip has an average single-core score of 4,321 and an average multi-core score of 9,183 while its 3.1GHz counterpart reports respective single and multi-score scores of 4,227 and 8,955.
This is wildly impressive. Those scores are not only nightmare for Android, they’re pretty bad news for Intel as well as any other semiconductor maker out there, including the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung who manufacture chips that power most Android devices.
Apple’s previous A-series chips routinely outclassed competition in terms of single-core performance, but A11 Bionic is not only fast, it’s a multi-core monster of a processor.
As we previously explained, this new chip debuting in iPhone X and 8 introduces two additional low-power cores for a total of four battery-saving cores for tasks that don’t need full speed, like reading email, playing music, fetching data in the background and so forth. It also has two high-performance cores for things like editing video, playing games and more.
The trick is, unlike the previous A10 Fusion chip that can only use one CPU cluster at any given time, all six cores in A11 Bionic are independently addressable and can run concurrently.
Also, A10 Fusion implements the simplest form of ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture where the CPU is arranged into identically-sized clusters of cores (two “Big” and two ”Little”) and the iOS task scheduler can only see and use one CPU cluster at any given time.
In other words, when CPU load changes between low and high, iPhone 7 must transition to the other CPU cluster whereas iPhone X utilizes any core as needed, all if need be, thanks to A11’s heterogeneous multi-processing based on the most advanced big.LITTLE implementation.
…this sounds like it's going to be a Geekbench monster. RIP the rest of the industry
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 10, 2017
Apple says A11 Bionic delivers 25 percent faster compute performance via the two high-performance cores while its four efficiency cores are 70 percent faster than the A10 Fusion.
“A new, second-generation performance controller can harness all six cores simultaneously, delivering up to 70 percent greater performance for multi-threaded workloads,” says Apple.
Analyst Dan Matte suspects the new chip owes much of its speed to the removal of 32-bit support (which is why Apple with iOS 11 is removing support for 32-bit iPhone and iPad apps):
If you subtract out the efficiency gains from removing 32-bit support, you’re left with maybe very roughly a fifteen percent improvement in CPU IPC for the big cores, assuming equivalent clocks to the A10 Fusion chip.
Apple could have pushed performance and efficiency further, if not for the ten-nanometer FinFET semiconductor process technology being really bad. The era of the hyper Moore’s Law curve in mobile is officially over, in my opinion, though maybe A10 Fusion already signaled that. It’s all rough sledding from here on out, based on the state of foundry challenges.
A11 also integrates a Secure Enclave cryptographic coprocessor and—for the first time since breaking ties with Imagination Technologies—Apple’s own three-core GPU with 30 percent faster graphics than the previous A10 Fusion chip.
Standard caveats apply here: Geekbench and other other synthetic benchmarks don’t necessarily match what the user experiences because there are other factors at play that determine how fast a chip is in real-life use.
But given A11’s tremendous benchmark lead, no doubt those scores translate into tangible performance gains thanks to the efficiency of Apple’s operation system that runs smoothly across a wide range of iPhone hardware without requiring lots of RAM or overclocked chips.
Are you guys impressed by these early A11 benchmarks? I’ve never expected the next iPhone would have such a crazy fast chip, I though we’d be looking at a circa 20 percent gain, at most.
Leave your comments below.